This is the twenty second in a series of articles for e-learning for Advanced Sales Training for IT and High-Tech Sales.
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Sales Strategy – Sales Conversation: Gaining Commitment
In the realm of sales, the art of gaining a customer's commitment is often referred to as "closing." This pivotal moment in the sales process hinges on several key steps that align with the customer's buying cycle. Here's an insight into effectively securing this commitment.
Understanding the Customer's Business
The foundation of a successful sales conversation is a thorough understanding of the
customer's business. This involves:
- Recognizing the Need for Change: Identify the customer's problems or opportunities and the necessity for a solution.
- Influencing Decision Criteria: Understand thefactors that influence the customer's decision-making process.
- Proposing Solutions: Once the above steps areachieved, propose a solution that addresses these needs.
With these elements in place, you can confidently ask for a commitment, whether it's for a contract, an order, or a step towards these goals.
Good sales practice involves consistently seeking confirmation throughout the selling process. This doesn't necessarily mean asking for the order at every turn, but rather ensuring that each step meets the customer's needs. This can be achieved by:
- Setting Dates for Follow-Up Meetings: This ensures ongoing engagement and progress.
- Requesting Specific Information: Helps prepare for future meetings and shows commitment from both sides.
Timing is Key
Asking for amajor commitment prematurely can be detrimental. It's crucial to understand the customer's situation, problems, implications, needs, and to present a suitable solution before making a major commitment request. At the right time, a direct question such as, “Since we meet all of the requirements, is there any reason why we can’t sign contracts?” can be very effective.
Different situations may call for various closing techniques:
- Alternative Close: Offering a choice, such as between a 6-month or 12-month contract.
- Trial or Hypothetical Close: Suggesting a conditional agreement based on meeting specific criteria.
- Testing Close: Asking for the customer's opinion on a particular aspect of the proposal.
- Assumptive Close: Proceeding as if the customer has already agreed, for example, arranging training sessions.
- Stepping-Stones Close: Gaining agreement on smaller elements that lead to the final close.
- Duke of York (Balance Sheet) Close: In conversation with the customer, listing positives and negatives, focusing on positives.
- Ben Franklin Close: Similar to Duke of York, but with an emotional touchpoint.
Objections to your close should not be taken personally; instead, they should be viewed as a positive sign of the customer's engagement and interest. Addressing objections effectively can help refine your proposal and align it more closely with the customer's needs. More on handling objections in the next article.
Successful sales conversations and gaining commitment depend on understanding the customer, timing your requests appropriately, using the right closing techniques, and effectively handling objections. This strategic approach not only secures sales but also fosters lasting customer relationships.
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